2017 EDITOR'S PICKS
Bringing you along on the Seabourn Food and Wine Cruise, we have covered a lot of ground so far. Rightfully so; there is a bunch of content here for food and wine fans. Cooking demonstrations, tastings, seminars and other events have weaved their way through the journey on a daily basis, with enough flexibility to exceed guest expectations but still allow time for other activities. A perfect fit for a luxury cruise line already known for their culinary expertise, food and wine cruise-specific events have been layered on top of what they already do very nicely. But it’s that “what they already do” part, the core Seabourn experience that we have not touched on much and it surely deserves a bit of attention.
In previous posts, we touched on the little things Seabourn does that sets them apart from other ultra-luxury cruise lines. But a little something extra on our bed when we turn in for the night, crew who remember guest names and baristas that know what we will order before we do are really not all that unusual.
Ships with ten times the number of passengers manage to leave a towel animal at the end of the day. While not all crew will know all guest names on bigger ships, the crew we come in contact with regularly does. Odds are if we find a place on board that offers specialty coffee drinks and go there every day, they will remember us on that other cruise line too.
So what makes Seabourn different? What sets them apart from other cruise lines doing basically the same thing: taking their guests from place to place in a safe and secure environment, enabling them to unpack once and see multiple destinations and do so at a good value?
The short answer is actually quite simple: The people who work here want very badly to be here and have made being of service their profession.
Leaving our sailing early, a couple of Seabourn executives went off in search of new crew members. Stopping at a number of European hotel schools, they will be lucky to find a few that meet Seabourn’s high standards. All will be career-oriented, well-trained professionals with the right attitude, appearance and commitment; what it takes to make it on this luxury cruise line and be of service to the well-traveled, upscale passengers who they will work hard for. But other luxury cruise lines probably do that also; sourcing their workers in a similar fashion. At Seabourn, there is one more element that other cruise lines might try to emulate but fall short: Family.
The crew as a whole is a family of sorts and that makes sense. They work, eat and sleep together on a four months on, two months off schedule that demands a certain amount of cohesion just to operate. We see that too on other cruise lines; it’s the nature of the beast.
Where Seabourn excels, passes other cruise lines by and/or blows them away is that passengers too, from the moment they step foot on a Seabourn vessel are also considered part of the family…and that’s not “family” in quotes but family in their hearts.
Most other cruise lines simply don’t get that, are too focused on bottom-line results to care or just don’t know how. This Seabourn Family is a live, breathing thing that I don’t believe I would have been able to describe if I had not experienced it first hand.
Right about here is where I might naturally note that such commitment comes at a price not all are willing to pay. Indeed, a day on a Seabourn cruise could easily cost ten times as much as other cruise lines. But talking dollars and cents and being part of the Seabourn family in the same breath makes no sense.
‘Once they sail with us, they are family’, is a thought that has come up, been displayed and engrained into the Seabourn experience throughout our sailing. Scrape off the food and wine themed layer, get down to the core Seabourn experience and there you see it, plain as day.
At the Seabourn Club past-guest party, more than half the passengers on board showed up, all with stories of how nicely Seabourn takes care of them. One remembers how the hotel director of one Seabourn ship let the hotel director of another know they were coming on board, enabling the later to surprise them with something personal and special. Another tells of an extraordinary personal touch where a waiter overhears table conversation indicating his guests love mussels, gets with the restaurant manager and surprises them with mussels for dinner one night, even though they are not on the menu. Sailing in Antarctica, the Seabourn driver of a zodiac boat is supposed to have guests back on board at a certain time but takes them off course to see something amazing.
These stories are endless.
These stories are what keeps Seabourn guests coming back.
These stories epitomize the Seabourn Family, a living, breathing entity perhaps like your own family.
The Seabourn Family is what enabled us to go behind the scenes, no doors locked, to see what the family is doing back there. As family, we were invited into the kitchen for lunch. As family, we see the Captain all over the ship, all the time and he stops to chat with us, all of us. As family the Cruise Director is right there with us, all the time; helping us get on tour busses, sharing a sail away toast, singing with the entertainment staff and more.
I can’t think of another organization, on land or at sea, that pays as much attention to the details of what family means and does so with such commitment. This is not some corporate program complete with buzzwords, games to get employees into it or a company song to sing. This is the real deal. This is the Seabourn family.